Friday, 15 February 2013

Reflection: a learning story

I'm interested in stories. I always have been. And, I suspect, a powerful reason for my interest in media as a learning tool is because of the variety of ways it offers for telling stories. Sometimes, though, the best way is still the spoken word. The hush that falls over a classroom as the tale begins, always reminds me how that thirst is shared by us all.
Today students were beginning to use their project blogs to reflect on their learning to date. Some of the problems students have with reflecting on their own learning are that it is: too close to see clearly, relatively fine-grained and undramatic. Tell them a story about learning on the other hand and they might surprise you at their perceptiveness - as, indeed, happened today.

A hunter and his family are hungry, the hunting grounds near his village are used too often and he is forced to search further afield. After a difficult journey through the forest he comes to a clearing with a pool of water at its centre. Standing quietly and still, on the lee side of the clearing, the hunter is soon pleased to see animals coming down to drink. A small deer appears and the hunter  looses an arrow and, to his delight, hits the deer. Slinging his prize over his shoulders he sets off for home. 
He notices that a route taking him over a hill could be more direct and he decides to chance reaching home that way; for the deer, though small, is heavy and his path through the forest was difficult. 
Unfortunately there is a cave in the hill and, even less fortunately, it is home to a bear and her cubs. Hearing the hunter on the rocky hillside the bear emerges. The hunter runs for his life, dropping the deer. Luckily the bear stops to examine the carcase and the hunter escapes but returns home empty-handed. The way over the hill is much quicker than the journey through the forest 

Q. What does hunter need to do next?
A. Reflect on what he has learned...

Q. What should the hunter remember?
A. The way to and from the clearing, the good hunting, the bear in the cave on the hill, the quicker route home

Q. What should the hunter understand?
A. That the clearing was a good hunting ground and the cave made the hill route dangerous

Q. How could the hunter apply this understanding?
A. Go to the clearing again but avoid the cave.

Today I was only intending for them to use "lower order" questions in their blog posts and
this was where I was planning to stop.  The students, however, had other ideas:
He was trying to do two things at once, he should have gone home the safe way...
He should explore different routes over the hill without going hunting... 
Why couldn't he go back with a load of hunters and kill the bear...
They could move their village nearer the clearing....

In short they were analysing, evaluating and creating solutions as well - spontaneously.